The Federation of American Scientists manages the FAS Impact Fellowship to support development and placement of scientific and technical talent on projects that can drive significant social good in the government and social sector. This is for a few reasons:
- For organizations and government entities working on a range of social good challenges – from famine to criminal justice to climate – recruiting top technical and scientific talent can be a choke point;
- Recent STEM graduates and seasoned technologists alike have significant interest in career paths that allow them to tackle society’s toughest challenges outside of purely commercial endeavors.
- Nevertheless, the market for connecting this surging talent to the world’s hardest problems often remains broken.
The Federation of American Scientists was founded in 1945 on the idea that scientists, engineers, and other technically trained people have the ethical obligation to ensure that the technological fruits of their intellect and labor are applied to the benefit of humankind. This new fellowship program builds upon that vision for today’s digital age by supporting young, entrepreneurial software engineers, product managers, and designers who will each spend a year with an organization addressing a pressing social problem.
FAS has recruited and embedded eight fellows in both government and social sector organizations. FAS treats these fellows as employees, yet their day-to-day work takes place with and for selected host organizations. Candidates for the fellowship go through a rigorous review process to receive the opportunity to undertake a fellowship term.
Current fellows include:
Amita Shukla – Product Manager, Code for America
Amita Shukla graduated with a B.S. in Computer Science and a minor in Electrical Engineering from Columbia University. She has previously worked at the United Nations, the Department of State, the Department of Defense, and the American Civil Liberties Union on building better governance systems.
Chris Lee – Product Manager, Recidiviz
Chris Lee holds a M.S. in Information Management from the University of Washington and a B.S. in Computer Science from Vanderbilt University. He previously worked at Kaiser Permanente Health Innovation and interned at Nike’s headquarters and Infosys in India.
Jonathan Mak – Software Engineer/Product Manager, United Nations Global Pulse
Jonathan graduated from Stanford University with an M.S. and B.S. in Electrical Engineering with a focus in Signal Processing and Machine Learning. He previously worked at Apple on Motion Health Research, Amazon on the Photos Team, and DoNotPay as one of the first product managers/engineers developing chatbots.
Mayuka Sarukkai – Data Scientist, Recidiviz
Mayuka graduated with a M.S. in Computational Social Science and a B.S. in Symbolic Systems with a focus in Artificial Intelligence from Stanford University. She has developed computer vision and machine learning techniques to measure urban neighborhood change, spearheaded an analytics initiative at the U.S. Census Bureau, and built tech tools to support housing justice advocacy at JustFix.nyc.
Paola Martinez – Product Manager, Enveritas
Paola holds a M.S. in Management Science and Engineering and a B.S. in Computer Science from Stanford University, where she was also a Mayfield Fellow. She is interested in exploring the intersection between development and technology—leading her to work alongside shea nut farmers in Ghana to develop a product that increases their yield and therefore improves their family livelihood.
Spencer Yen – Software Engineer and Product Manager, MIT Media Lab – Social Machines
Spencer graduated with a B.S. in Computer Science and a minor in Sociology from Columbia University. He previously worked at Karuna Health, where he designed and built a mobile app for care managers, as well as Snackpass and Zynga, and was a Kleiner Perkins Engineering Fellow at DoorDash.
Andrew Choi – Senior Technologist, The World Bank
Andrew is a Senior Fellow at the Federation of American Scientists serving in the Office of the President at the World Bank, working on its Famine Action Mechanism (FAM) program to better predict global crises and provide aid faster and more efficiently. Prior to joining, he was the CTO and co-founder of Predata, a machine learning and AI startup that built a predictive analytics platform for geopolitical events and risks.
John Whitmer, Ed.D. – Senior Fellow, Data Science, Institute for Educational Sciences, U.S. Department of Education
John previously served as the Senior Director for Data Science and Analytics for ACT, Inc. In this role, he leads a team of data scientists, psychometricians, and learning analytics researchers to conduct foundational research and to develop operational algorithms. Prior to joining ACT, John lead a team conducting learning analytics research and development for Blackboard. John holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from UC Davis and a Master’s Degree in Sociocultural Anthropology from UC Davis.